Labour News Update: April 24, 2017

Basic Income debate | BC Liberals’ scandals | Remembering Rana Plaza | Chronicle Herald strike | Fighting Brad Wall’s austerity | hat does it mean to Keep Ontario Working? | WestJet Pilots union drive | McIntyre Powder and injured miners | Children’s Aid Society strike at Nipissing and Parry Sound ends | Hospital understaffing in Ontario | Union workers rally against Pallister’s budget ‘attack’ on public service| Rising Up Against Unjust Recruitment delivers a petition to BC minister | Transit cops or free transit? | GM factory is seized by government in Venezuela |


What does it mean to Keep Ontario Working?, April 21

While the Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign — along with the Ontario Federation of Labour — have led the organizing efforts to pressure the government on a wide range of reforms that would raise the floor for all workers in Ontario, employers have been pretty quiet. We know they didn’t participate much in the first round of public consultations for the Changing Workplaces Review, but we also know that the strength of the employer class doesn’t reside in their numbers. So what have they been up to, and what will they be looking for in the final recommendations? In short, what will success look like to Ontario’s employer lobby?

Transit cops or free transit?, April 20

Free public transit at the point of use – paid for entirely through progressive taxation – is the way to go not just for improving our transit services, but also for eliminating the single largest point of tension between transit operators and riders. Transit cops won’t do this. They’ll only bring in more problems. Let’s tear out the fare boxes and let’s ride together in a new direction.

The Basic Income debate, April 19

On April 13, about 300 people, all of them united in their desire to improve the well-being of the most vulnerable among us, took their seats in the OISE auditorium in Toronto to listen to a discussion about Basic Income (BI) and its implications for addressing poverty. What we need to keep in mind is that, regardless of a person’s views on BI, this particular event was a meeting of allies. It is unproductive to characterize any of the debaters or audience members as supporting poverty, the poverty police, or even the current inhumane system that delivers untold misery to so many.

Rising Up Against Unjust Recruitment delivers a petition to BC minister, April 18

On April 7th, Rising Up Against Unjust Recruitment, a coalition of organizations and individuals in British Columbia who are concerned about the mistreatment of temporary foreign workers (TFWs), delivered an open letter to the office of Shirley Bond, BC’s Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training in Victoria. The coalition has yet to hear back from Bond’s office. So far, 37 organizations have signed on to the letter which calls on the province to do more to protect temporary foreign workers from exploitation by recruiters and employers in the province.

ranaIn Other News 

Canadian Tire, MEC among Canadian brands urged to fully detail supply chains
CTV News, April 20

Just days before the fourth anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, several big name clothing retailers – including four in Canada — are being urged to do a better job disclosing where their products are made. The report, co-authored by nine labour rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and the Canadian organization Maquila Solidarity Network, says many clothing and footwear brands are failing to fully identify the factories that produce their branded goods.

Is the B.C. Liberal job creation claim ‘political spin’?
CBC, April 21

Does Clark’s claim stand up to a CBC fact check? The answer from three top economists: While the 220,000 figure over six years seems accurate, Clark appears to be taking credit for a recent uptick in employment that was mostly out of her control. They use words such as “lucky,” “serendipitous” and “cyclical” to describe the reasons behind the job rise.

Don’t make ‘basic income’ an excuse for inaction
Toronto Star, April 20

It should not scrap the existing social safety net or sabotage attempts to build new services, such as a more ambitious child-care system. And it should not use a new program as an excuse to push against inequality in other ways, such as strengthening labour standards and pay levels. Most importantly, government cannot set up a pilot plan and then turn away. The vision of “basic income” sometime in the future cannot serve as an excuse for inaction in the here and now.

Fightback against austerity is essential
Leader-Post, April 19

Have no illusions. The recent provincial budget is about more than reducing government expenditures. It is an act of class warfare, and the beginning of a process of redefining the society you live in — massively reducing the social role of the state, and transferring yet more wealth to the already wealthy. There are three budgets left in the Saskatchewan Party’s current mandate, and they will be worse than the one just announced. They will be about “permanent austerity,” not short-term belt-tightening.

Children’s Aid Society strike at Nipissing and Parry Sound ends, April 21

The Nipissing and Parry Sound Children’s Aid Society (CAS) has agreed to binding arbitration, ending the four-month labour dispute, CUPE reports.
The agreed return-to-work protocol, signed by the CAS executive director, will see workers back on the job Monday morning, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Union workers rally against budget ‘attack’ on public service
CBC, April 21

Union members say they are concerned about the impact changes made in last week’s provincial budget will have on future generations. Hundreds of union members from across the prairies took a break from a regional convention of the Public Service Alliance of Canada to rally outside Manitoba’s Legislative Building on Friday. The rally comes after the province tabled its budget last week, which included flat spending or outright cuts in more than two-thirds of department branches across the public service.

Herald union says it will meet with management in wake of Transcontinental deal
CBC, April 20

The union representing striking Chronicle Herald workers says it will meet face to face with the president of the newspaper, Mark Lever, on Friday. It will be the first time the two sides have talked since the newly created company that owns the Herald, SaltWire Network, announced last week it had acquired 27 Atlantic Canadian newspapers and one website from Transcontinental Inc.

18057907_1528052343906005_3843572307849551262_nBC Liberal candidate comes under fire for supporting privatized healthcare for the wealthy
Press Progress, April 21

Incumbent BC Liberal candidate Linda Reimer seems to have a knack for making rooms full of voters gasp out loud. During a debate hosted by the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce in the BC riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam Thursday night, Reimer surprised many when she said she supports privatizing healthcare “for those who are able to afford it” – in other words, the wealthy.

WestJet Pilots Seek ALPA Representation
Aviation Tribune, April 20

“WestJet pilots have demonstrated the pilot unity needed to certify a union on the property, and we believe pilots will be successful in their election for ALPA representation,” Canoll said. “The WestJet pilots work for a profitable and productive company, and with the vast resources available through ALPA representation, they will begin the process to legally negotiate the terms of their employment and establish a collective bargaining agreement under the Canada Labour Code that other union-represented aviation groups in Canada enjoy today.”

Halifax Chronicle Herald’s strike publication gets twice as many award nods as paper itself
CBC, April 18

A news site staffed entirely by journalists on strike from the Halifax Chronicle Herald has been nominated for twice as many Atlantic Journalism Awards as the newspaper itself. Local XPress is nominated for six AJA awards, including one for business reporting and five for photojournalism. The Herald, which is the city’s flagship paper, is up for three.

How Saskatchewan does cash-for-access — in broad daylight
iPolitics, April 19

In politics, you eventually become what you profess to hate. The Saskatchewan Party was born out of a sense of austere populism in 1997 — the hardscrabble laypeople rising up against the entrenched establishment. After barely a decade in power, it has become quite the opposite: a political entity that proudly sells access to its leader, just as it does to the naming rights on its golf carts.

Hospital beds in Hamilton: ‘There is no slack left in the system. Zero.’
Hamilton Spectator, April 17

It’s been a rough few months for Ontario hospitals. Wait times for patients admitted through ERs have hit peak levels; more patients have been admitted than discharged; and a number of hospitals have simply run out of space. Frazzled administrators, forced to get creative in accommodating the overflow, have coined the term “unconventional spaces” to describe their solution. They have converted into temporary accommodations patient lounges, staff classrooms, offices — and in some cases even storage rooms.

Do right by injured miners
Toronto Star, April 18

Just contemplating it is sickening: Ontario miners forced to inhale a black aluminum-based substance called McIntyre Powder every time they went on shift.
The powder the miners were forced to breathe in from about 1943 to 1980 was actually developed to reduce the likelihood of them developing lung diseases caused by the high content of carcinogenic silica in gold and uranium mines.

Patients are sicker, staffing is lower than rest of Canada at local long-term care homes
Ottawa Citizen, April 21

Saying good morning to residents at the long-term care home where she works used to be part of Bonnie Soucie’s daily routine. That routine has now fallen victim of stressful and hectic work conditions at long-term care homes in Ottawa and across the province, where patients are sicker than ever before and staffing levels are significantly lower than in the rest of Canada, according to new research from the Canadian Union of Public Employees, backed up by staff.

GM halts operations in Venezuela after factory is seized
CBC, April 20

General Motors became the latest U.S. corporation to have a factory or other asset seized by the government of Venezuela, and the Detroit automaker faces an uphill battle to recover any damages.

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